Mar. 2nd, 2009 02:50 pm
clarentine: (Mastiff)
505 pages. 126K words as measured in Standard Manuscript Format. Eight months, give or take.

Here, have a word cloud:

Wordle: Break III
clarentine: (Default)
Richmond VA has snowpocalypse! Yes, Virginia, the weather gods have not abandoned us. We have an honest-to-goodness eight inch snow accumulation, the first of such quantity in probably ten years, and your correspondent is stoked--not least because it means state workers are off for the day, and I get to play with the dogs and write and read. Woo!

Kay is in seventh heaven. She's convinced that the snow was put there just for her to play in and insists on eating half her weight in white every time we go out...which is often. *g* (I got this dog because I wanted to bring more life into the house. Let's just say I succeeded.)

We do have branches down in the back yard, pines being the delicate things that they are, but those are going to wait for moving until I can get to them through the snow. I was very happy this morning to see that none of them fell on my shrubbery, only on the lawn or mulched areas.

The snow appears to have mostly stopped accumulating. Now the wind's doing its sculpting thing, howling through the pines. All in all, I'm glad I'm inside.

(N.B. - make that 11 inches.)


Last night, before bed, I wrote the last sentence of the climax scene in Break. That leaves only the summing up and laying of final trails into the next book, which I will attempt today in between dog tending chores and playing in the snow.

Guess I'd better get at it!


Feb. 28th, 2009 02:27 pm
clarentine: (Mastiff)
I just realized that I know what the cover for the novel known as Break will forever be in my head. *g* (Knowing full well that, if and when it ever gets picked up for publication, I'll have no say in cover illustrations.) (But it's so perfect, wails my inner child.)


You wanna see a cover made of awesome for a real novel, as in, one coming out in August of this year? Go check out [livejournal.com profile] stillsostrange's LJ and squee!

Everybody else wants the midriff thing. Me, I want the cloak.


If you guessed that the image for the cover for Break being in my head means the book is finished, well, not quite. But I am about to embark on the very scene that generated the image in my head, at about page 491, and once I can figure out how to structure it the thing should just about write itself, I've spent so much time and energy thinking about it. And then it will be downhill to the last bits (denouement, anyone?) and I will be DONE!

Don't let anyone ever tell you finishing a novel isn't hard work.
clarentine: (Default)
I suspect that any time I might be asked to name what I think is the funniest word in the English language, I'm likely to come up with a different candidate. Today's comes courtesy of Best Life magazine:

"Then you have [name redacted, poor guy], a Southern gent raised to be discrete and diligent."

Hee! That almost balanced my annoyance at having to deal with a morning busload of chatty Cathys.


This being Wednesday, and Wednesdays being when Louisiana Flair, a local Cajun restaurant, offers beignets on their menu, I'm planning an excursion before getting down to work. I made orange syrup this weekend that I think will go exquisitely well with the beignets and brought some in today to share.

That's what the Clever Girls and Boys need to invent next: a scratch-n-sniff device you attach to your computer. Then you could share, too!


Yes, I'm still plowing through the tail end of Break. It may break me before we're done. Every once in a while I get a tantalizing hint that the book might have sneaked something really cool in amongst those 483 pages. I can only hope I can find those places, pull back the dross that covers them, and polish them so they can be at their best and most compelling.

Well, I can hope.
clarentine: (Default)
Numbers and I do not get along. I can, and have, worked the same damned algebra problem and ended up with different answers, and been certain each time I had worked the problem correctly. Usually, however, I can count on my brain's innate skill with patterns to keep the digit-swapping to a minimum when it's words rather than numerals.

Today, I typed a new one: navitagion.

Apparently that's a virus that makes you suddenly pack a bag and jump on board ship. *g*


It's been a good couple of days' word gathering, with nearly 2K new words to show for my effort (and not effort of the staring at the screen for hours variety, either; this is the pre-Christmas season, and every minute seems to be scheduled). I can tell I'm starting to get to the point where existing text is fitting into the new material--the grafting is becoming easier.

I'm also at page 346. Wow.


No research. I am, however, reading for fun - I finished an early Tony Hillerman-Jim Chee/Lt. Leaphorn mystery, Coyote Waits over the weekend and am now approaching the end of the new Lynn Flewelling-Seregil and Alec book, Shadows Return. Long awaited, this one. When I am not busy shedding books in preparation for moving, I will have to buy the ones that go before just so I can re-read them all in quick sequence. (I hear they're being reissued - yay!)

I also will soon have a whole new box of books to read, though most of them I've already read. I won an auction over at the [livejournal.com profile] helpvera community that includes three or four Nina Kiriki Hoffman novels, two of which are some of my absolute favorites. (The Thread that Binds the Bones and The Silent Strength of Stones) Plus some books I've been meaning to read, and will now be Mine!

What was that about shedding books? *g*
clarentine: (Mastiff)
I've just invented a new word - guilting, a noun, synonym for guilt trip, which I cannot use in this context. I like it. So don't try telling me it's not the best new word you've ever heard, because I won't hear you. *g*


Hmm. What have I researched recently? Polo, polo ponies, types of trees and other plants that grow in this sort of setting. Food crops, likewise. Lots and lots of image searches for terrain that matches what I want to see on the page.

Oh, and Christmas gifts. *g* I still have to write out the cards, too, lest they become New Year's cards.

I got about 800 words the night before last, and have managed 692 more and two short scenes tonight. My "spare" time's been consumed lately not just with preparations for the upcoming Christmas gift-giving but with a legislative proposal that's striking fairly close to Career Path #2's right to practice. It's resulting in lots of email exchanges arguing complex readings of lawyerly text and low-level panicked politicking over the direction our professional landscape design organization will choose to go--support of the legislation, as long as we get the amendments to its wording that will keep us in business, or opposition. I think I've managed to convince the rest of the board members that we need an actual vote on the subject.

All of this conducted around Career Path #1's dayjobbery and writing. And I still have to organize year-end charitable donations, which mostly means inventorying stuff we're giving to Goodwill. Yeah. Busy am I.


I really wanted to be done with this rewrite by the new year. At the speed I'm going, I don't see that happening. The draft I'm rewriting has about 80 pages more to go, and there are some significant changes still to make under my current theory of the arc of this novel. On the plus side, however, I am working on page 337, and thus far the plot re-conception seems to be holding together.

Ah, well. Can't have everything, right?


Dec. 2nd, 2008 12:28 pm
clarentine: (Mastiff)
You know what the problem with legacy scenes is? Not just adapting them to the current conditions of the novel--no, that I've more or less gotten used to. The real problem is in trying to figure out, after reasoning how it happens, whether it still needs to happen.

If your math indicates it would have been more efficient to determine the need prior to doing the work on the how, you are correct.

This is what they mean when they talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees.

All of the foregoing is not to say that the effort was wasted, or that the scene in question won't be retained. I just wish I'd spent some of the past day's thrashing on the need, first. And, on the plus side of the ledger, I have indeed worked out how the scene could have taken place in the mature context of the novel. (That would be mature, as in the novel's getting closer to what I meant it to be, rather than a juvenile collection of angst.) Now to see if I end up using it!
clarentine: (Mastiff)
Remember earlier this summer when I was so worried about word count in Break? When the novel stood at 275 pages?

It's now at just over 400 pages, and I am working on page 313, approaching (finally!) the end of the second act and the big second turning point. I have nearly managed to claw my way out of the Dreaded Middle of the Book. Huzzah!

A lot of that new page count came from three new scenes written in the past week. Canum's bad days grow worse. Plus, he's now seen his first bola tournament (that would be polo, adapted to the Canumverse), witnessed horse racing and tent pegging, and fended off an assassin. I repaired the flaw in my reconfiguration of the dateline in this novel that I'd been thrashing over, and I think I've done it with a modicum of style. Chasm bridged!

All in all, November's been a productive month for me.


Polo's an interesting sport. There is a wealth of information on the 'net about polo, as you might expect, but most instructive to a visual learner like me are the videos of polo matches on YouTube, like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ro4MoOLixG4. (Just be careful if you try to find any more of those videos; girl-and-horse sexual innuendo videos far outnumber the actual clips of polo matches.) My intention is to have my depiction of several matches vetted by a friend who rides, who has friends who play polo.


Less than a month until solstice, when the days begin to grow longer once more. I'm not aware that I suffer from any of the truly debilitating emotional and mental issues related to a shortage of daylight, thankfully, but I do know that I fall victim (like most of humanity) to the desire for extra calories and more sleep. Come the solstice, I, like my plants, will begin to perk up. I look forward to that day like very few others throughout the year.


Four-day weekend ends tonight. Back to the day job tomorrow. Bah!
clarentine: (Canum)
1961 new words yesterday, which will sbustitute for the scene I'm cutting (sap--ew) and then some. The subconscious remembered what plot was. Hallelujah!

Best news yet: I found a way to incorporate a ponor. The scenery grows all around me. The Sapree canyons came alive as I wrote them, and the hills of central Vellutira are becoming more real with every word. One of these days, given the chance, I want to see this landscape I'm paraphrasing. (Did you know there's a grant to allow (SFF?) authors to do just that? I think it was [livejournal.com profile] fjm who mentioned it on her blog recently. Now there's a grant I want to win!)

Research in the last couple of days was mostly looking for photos of the karst landscapes of the Balkan peninsula. I found some lovely images of Dubrovnik, which, while that city doesn't quite match up to Clarent, will still enrich my descriptions of the Vellutiran capital and ensure it resembles neither Guaymarien nor the Sapree cities. I'm still using a gorgeous image of a flooded ponor and the hills and trees around it as a visual mnemonic when I'm on my laptop at home; you can bet that little fold in the hills will appear somewhere in Break.
clarentine: (Default)
(Sorry; don't know the plural form of those verbs, as Latin is one language I never dabbled in. They should be plural. You'll just have to imagine them that way.)

If you were wondering where I'd gotten to lately, the answer is, I've been busy. A pack of friends and I got together this past long weekend, as we have every year for the past nine, and explored a new town - this time, it was my turn to host and Richmond that got painted. We did a corn maze, the Celtic festival and Highland Games, and a quick and dirty tour of some of the more interesting historical spots in the city. Plus ice cream, of course (if you know me, you know just how unlikely it would have been that we skipped ice cream, not when we have the World's Best Ice Cream right here in town), and lunch at Capital Ale House with the attendant sampling of many different kinds of beer, and a lot of games of Munchkin and Apples to Apples.

All of this to-ing and fro-ing was supported by much planning and copious amounts of energy for some rather late nights, and I am tired. And sad, too, because my friends have gone their various ways for another year. It's too quiet at my house.

Ah, well. There's next year to look forward to. ::howls with glee::


Progress continues on Break. I'm up to page 260, still plowing forward, and getting closer to the gap in the timeline with every word I write. No brilliance has yet shown me how to get over that chasm. I have a creaky footbridge; I'd rather a nice stone structure, but I'll settle for footbridge if necessary. At this point, I just want over it.


Was there research since I last posted? There had to be, but I'm afraid I don't recall any of it at the moment. I haven't researched anything since we packed everyone off to the airport, at the very least. *g*
clarentine: (Mastiff)
Canum is rarely snarky; he's serious and so full of his sense of urgency that funny doesn't occur to him. And yet, he's capable of comments that stop me in my tracks for pure situational hilarity. Given what other people think of my own sense of humor, I doubt the following will really be funny to anyone else - especially out of (much) context, but I had to share this one he dropped on me today:

[he's just been insinuated to have been so dangerous as a youth that his family/brother locked him up...an allegation that is, like the best rumors, at least partly true]

[A's] smile was pinched at the edges. “You deny these accusations of instability?”

“My brother’s paranoia is not at issue."

If Kale had heard that exchange, he'd have frothed at the mouth. *g*


Once upon a time, back when I'd just started seriously considering the rewrite of this third Canum novel (Break), I despaired. The book topped out at about 275 pages, whereas the first and second books were each right around 375. Today, while continuing my slow-motion push through the (all but white paper) rewrite, I hit page 218 and am firmly in the middle of the book. In other words, Break has grown about 100 pages since I started this process.



There's been some research, more desultory than serious; there are times at the day job when I really lack the brain to do any serious work but I can't really just close my eyes and recharge. Knowing what is in store at the end of this book, I've been googling PTSD. I need some more serious research reading on this subject, however, because what I'm finding addresses the recovery and I'm more interested in the wreckage that precedes said recovery. If anyone reading this has a favorite source for those sorts of anecdotes/info, relating preferably to physical torture, I'd love to hear about them.

Not that I'm mean to my characters or anything.

::grins with teeth::
clarentine: (Canum)
It's been a while since I had appreciable progress to report, but I finally got through the scene that had been blocking me, to the tune of about 2200 new words, most of them coming late last night. I may actually have gotten through the worst of the scenes that needed to be added, too.

There's still a chunk of time unaccounted for coming up that I hope I can get over in some fashion other than "and they basically did nothing new for two weeks while the clock ticked." I dislike those sorts of entries. I'm holding out for a further flash of creativity to bridge the gap instead. *g*


There's a karst formation on the coast of Scotland--Geodha Smoo--which will be making a simulacrum appearance in Break. Fascinating stuff, this karst geology. Underground rivers turn out to be great places to disappear a body, unless they turn up at the bottom of the waterfall where the river cascades down to the coast. (/tongue in cheek)

Take a gander. This place is fascinating: http://www.durness.org/Smoo%20cave.htm
clarentine: (Canum)
1092 new words today, comprising two short scenes and the very beginning of a third. Again, I'm pausing because I've outpaced my understanding of what comes next. If I'm lucky, it'll come to me tonight. >:-)

No research, but I did back up my computer. No time like the present...because god knows I don't want to have to go through all of this revision again.


Sep. 16th, 2008 09:27 am
clarentine: (Canum)
(don't want to scare it off, but it's raining here.)

(::very quiet cheer::)


Let's see. Not much in the way of wordage to add to the WIP - am stuck trying to figure out how to increase tension following the last major added scene and waiting for my subconscious to cough up the answer - but I did get some research done (more karst stuff) and pulled together a calendar of events up to the point where we currently are. There are events in the future which require a certain amount of time to be possible, and I don't want to blow that timing.


Not that you can read this, but here's a huge ball of good thoughts for my friends in OH, who took Ike in the shorts over the weekend and few of whom have power back yet. I hope you have what you need, if perhaps not what you want.
clarentine: (Canum)
Last night's word count was something like 1952, which is excellent for me. Took two sittings to accomplish, but the scene just would not quit talking to me, and in the end I was pleased that I'd persevered.

I'm on the ledge about using "my voice scraping my throat like teeth on a bone," but for the moment it's staying.

Thus far today I have 556 new words for the transition into the next chapter. Dunno if there will be more.


Courtesy of the Henrico County Public Library system, I have access to a number of databases of primarily scholarly journals and magazines. I've been using that access today to research karst landscapes. I'm going to have fun with this one; setting is very important to me, and this particular imagined setting is coming clearer in my mind's eye with every photo I see of dolines, ponors, poljes, and karren.

If, when you read this book, you feel like you're in one of these poljes and are checking underfoot for ponors, I've done my job. *g*
clarentine: (Canum)
1425 last night after much thrashing around to set up this next scene. I've been heavily into avoidance activities while my subconscious worked out what had to happen on the screen--this week, I'm making throw pillows for the couch. I've made phone calls I've been putting off, I ran errands, I got my eyes checked. Took the dog to the park. Limed, fertilized, and re-seeded the little lawn in the back yard. And then I decided I needed to just write the damned scene and get it over with. Perfection isn't necessary; it has to be on the screen/page before it can be polished.

I swear, I have to rediscover this truth at least three times a year.


Somewhere, in the notebooks containing the early, handwritten versions of the Canum stories, there's a list of the names of a certain group of people. I could really use that list right about now. Maybe it's time to relocate all of those notebooks down here to the workroom.

No, that's more displacement. Argh!


After I got my words last night, I let myself do some of the research I'd pushed aside in order to get them written. Cave systems in karst is a topic I'm very interested in at the moment. I stopped by a library earlier in the week to see what sort of info I could find, but the reference librarian was unable to offer much assistance. It's not so much the geology and hydrology of karst that interests me; what I really want to understand is the effect that geology and hydrology has on the landscape and environment it's set within--not so much the caves themselves, then. Because I'm finding it hard to put into words the particular thing I need to know about, I can't blame the librarian for being unable to help me.

Maybe what I need is to locate a geologist/hydrologist who understands karst and pick their brain. *g*


I'm currently involved with an online class on the Age of Sail--not displacement this time but rather research for Satisfaction, whenever I finally pick it back up. (On the other hand, spending hours working on the optional homework assignment is, uh, avoidance. Um.) I forget sometimes how much fun it is to read about sailing and imagine the movement of beautiful boats through the sea.


I'm also currently working my way through Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel, not as a bible or blueprint but more as a check of what these past years of exposure to high-octane writers' brains has taught me. I have some very bright friends, I'm happy and proud to say. I haven't read anything thus far in the Maass book that hasn't been said in some variation by someone I know rather better than Maass.


See? I've been busy. That's why I haven't gotten many words lately. Look at all the stuff I've been doing....


Back to work.
clarentine: (Canum)
1258 is a nice number for the first writing session of the day, and I've errands to run, so we stop here. Hopefully, there will be a second writing session.

I'm happy to say I got past yesterday's flailing. I had a good, long think about why we should care if Canum meets his goal, and did some tweaking of the pages that came before, and I think I'm okay. I don't know that the problem is resolved - it certainly might crop up again later in this revision - but I think for the moment we're good.

And I got to introduce, in today's new words, the germ of a title that's going to dog Canum for a good long while to come, and I am happy. *g*


Hmm. I have to go out anyway, so perhaps I will save gas and stop by the library to see what the reference librarians can come up with on caves in limestone/karst. Ideally, caves in the landmass that's doubling as the setting for this book. I'm not looking to get very deep into the geology of caves or karst, but you never know what sort of little detail might turn up in research that jogs something new into being. And there might be a book with photos, which are always helpful.



Sep. 6th, 2008 09:10 pm
clarentine: (Canum)
Have just realized one huge limitation on personal-level plot stories: the reader has to care about what's at stake in the little personal-level plot.

::cue much gnashing of teeth::
clarentine: (Canum)
Today we finally rolled over and past the first turning point and into the second act, and I got to write two brand new scenes for a total of 1500 words by MS Word's count or approximately five and a half pages SMF (standard manuscript format).

Wow. It feels so good to write new material again.

I'm sure the rest of the Dreaded Middle of this book won't go as easily as today's words did, but I'm glad to have had the experience.


The interesting thing about worldbuilding on the fly is that, sometimes, the thing you add just for the hell of it, just for color, turns out to be an important element in the story. I love when that happens.
clarentine: (Canum)
Whew. Fell off the reporting bandwagon this weekend, didn't I? I'm happy to report, however, that despite a severely bloodied forehead (from banging my head against that damned brick wall) I've managed to rewrite the scene to conform to the new vision of this particular story. Furthermore, I worked my way through the transition between that scene and the next, and the next scene, and am contemplating the one after that, so I count myself accomplished.

I am finding that the transitions in this particular rewrite are really dragging at me. Transitions have never been something I've had to struggle with. I hope I don't have to fight them all the way through this damned book. Keeping my focus on the plot is helping.

I'm now approaching the 100-page point and, not entirely coincidentally, the end of the first act and the first big turning point. That scene is the next one. Hopefully I'll be back later today to report it successfully rewritten!


During one of the evenings when I couldn't get even one word onto the page, I spent some time instead working on worldbuilding. I now have a base map of the area of the peninsula surrounding the city where this novel is taking place and another of the outline of the city. I no longer have Canum riding unnecessarily from his lodgings to the Orators Guildhall, not given the short distance involved.

I will need to be doing research on karst and caves soon, I think.

I also now have coin(s) of the realm, and a better feel for how the economics of the nation work.

This all counts as production, doesn't it? >;-)


And, as if I was not doing enough, I've also signed up for a two-month online course on ships in the Golden Age of Sail. I've already done a lot of research on various aspects of life in those times for Satisfaction, the pirate novel, but it never hurts to do more. Who knows when something I've been assuming will turn out to be one of those stupid things that trips up those in the know when they read the story? If I do have any of those sorts of overlooked assumptions, I want to know about it now. Josh and his compatriots will thank me.


clarentine: (Default)

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